Three-year-old Lilly Mitchell enjoys the slide at the new playground by the lower field at the Juan de Fuca Rec Centre

Three-year-old Lilly Mitchell enjoys the slide at the new playground by the lower field at the Juan de Fuca Rec Centre

Family-friendly amenity added to parks mix in Colwood

New playground is being well-used, despite not being officially open yet

There’s now another new playground for area families to get excited about.

Well, it hasn’t been officially opened, but the building of it is complete and some West Shore families are already making use of it.

It’s in the lower section of the West Shore Parks and Recreation complex, past the soccer fields by the basketball courts – just look for the snow fencing that’s still surrounding the area.

“We’ve been fundraising for probably three years along with the Rotary,” parks and rec chief administrative officer Linda Barnes said of the expansion of playground offerings on the site.

Through various community initiatives, foundational support, book sales and other fundraising projects, the parks and rec department and Rotary collected the $250,000 needed to build the new playground, without having to dip into any taxpayer or municipal funds, she said.

“We’re officially opening it in May, but we must already have 60 kids a day down there. It’s crazy.”

Barnes said It’s one of far too few “destination parks” in the area. In other words, it’s a play place to pack up the family and head to for an afternoon – rather than just stopping by on the way somewhere else – or pop around the corner from the house to play for a few minutes.

Melissa Mitchell and her family, for example, recently stopped in for an afternoon outing.

“It’s great,” she said, watching her two-year-old daughter, Lilly, run from station to station and take on the various slides and swings with her grandmother. “You can bring a picnic and sit in behind it on the grass and make a whole day of it if you want. Or dad can go golfing while we all play over here,” she added with a chuckle, pointing to par-3 Juan de Fuca Golf Course on the other side of the basketball courts.

Barnes said her organization knew it would need another playground facility soon to keep up with the rapid growth being seen in parks and rec programs.

“We finished the statistical analysis of the communities and we know where our pressures are,” she said.

With the numbers growing in young families faster than any other demographic, it will be a struggle to keep up, but they’re doing their best to do just that, Barnes said.

The (soon to be) opening of this new playground is the first of many expansions West Shore Parks and Recreation hopes to unveil in the coming months and years.